Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thoughts from Mt. Kenya

I would love to post some photos but my internet connection is quite slow. For the past four days, I was off hiking Mount Kenya, and was unable  to bring my computer. 

Touted as more rugged and beautiful than Killiminjaro, and the second tallest mountain on the continent, I wanted a crack at it, and it was breath- taking!  Thanks to several new friends, some Diamox, and some anaerobic metabolism in my quadriceps muscle group (among others), I summitted Point Lenana, at 4,985 meters above sea level.  Photos will follow, when I have a more brisk internet connection.

As for the end of last week, we finally were able to get a percutaneous nephrostomy tube in one of our newly diagnosed GYN malignancy patients, who had been waiting for several days.  I placed the tube using only ultrasound guidance, a method I'm unaccustomed to. 

She is doing well, and I am hopeful that tube care will continue at home, as per the instructions we gave her daughter.  She may or may not return for a routine tube exchange in 3 months as we advised.  In this environment, with this patient population, I have learned to hope for the best, in the face of financial, geographic, and cultural barriers.  I have a plan to try to attack some of these barriers in the coming week, although my time here runs short.  The registrars, of course, will be instrumental in the process.

On the ride to and from Mt. Kenya, I had plenty of time to finish The Africans, a great book, which I passed on to Laura, a first year medical student from IU.  It promptly put her to sleep, as she had not been sleeping well this past week, so the book has thus far had a therapeutic effect for her. 

Through a series of interviews with presidents, revolutionaries, and everyone in between, I learned not only about the post- colonial reorganization of Africa during the Cold War era, but of the circumstances which made Africa rich soil for the HIV/AIDS epidemic to take hold.  Although published in the early 1980's, the trends Lamb cites remain highly relevant.

I also gained a deeper understanding of some of the cultural idiosynchrasies I had run across in the last few weeks, such as Swahili time, which runs seven hours later than western time, or about the context of the conditions of roads in Africa and the dangers of being a passenger on them.

To offset the political science, I then read an award winning Canadian fiction novel called Lullabies for Little Criminals, about a tween girl in the slums of Montreal, raised by her heroin- addicted father.  That little gem caught my eye one night waiting for dinner in the IU house library.

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